A party in divorce may be entitled to collect social security benefits based on the earnings history of their spouse. Your spouse must already be at least 62 years old and receiving their social security benefits. Several conditions must be met before a party is entitled to their spouse’s benefits. First, you must have been married for at least ten years. Second, you must presently be at least 62 years old. There is an exception to the age requirement if your spouse is deceased in which case you can start collecting at 60 years old or 50 years old if disabled. Third, your social security benefits based on your earnings history must be less than your spouse’s benefits. You can only receive one social security benefit and should opt for whichever is higher. Finally, you cannot be presently married. There are exceptions to this rule as well. Specifically, remarriage is permissible if it occurs after age 60 or age 50 if disabled.
Be advised that even if you elect to receive benefits based on your spouse’s social security rather than your own, it will not in any way reduce your spouse’s benefits. You spouse will continue to receive the full amount of his or her benefit. In addition, you would be entitled to receive 50% of the benefit your spouse is receiving. If, however, your spouse pre-deceases you, you are then entitled to receive 100% of your spouse’s benefits. Further, any children under 18 at the time of your spouse’s death would be entitled to benefits based on your spouse’s benefits as well.